It’s 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and my alarm is demanding attention, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve already been awake for quite some time. Sleep couldn’t find me, hidden underneath all my excitement, because shortly I will be on the road headed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
After about a five hour drive we find ourselves at the gates, impatiently waiting for them to open and allow us to dart straight for Ollivander’s to start our day off properly with a wand selection ceremony. It was adorable, and slightly envious, to watch the chosen children’s eyes light up as they were offered wands to try, witnessed the effects of ill fitted wands, and the silent nods of thanks as they accepted their proper wands.
Then the fun began for us to choose our own wands. With little to no hesitation I chose Ginny Weasley, Lisa chose Sirius Black,and after some deliberation between Luna and Lupin, Kayla chose Lupin after stating, “I know it’s odd because he’s a man and all…” to my response, “You find it odd because he’s a man when he’s also a werewolf?”
Another fun extra was interacting with all of the witty staff. While we were inside Ollivander’s one of the men assisting first time witches and wizards to find their wand mentioned to my cousin that she had a creature on her back, her Chewbacca backpack, and asked if she had picked it up in the muggle world. He was met with her reply, “yes I did, but he holds all my stuff, so he’s pretty handy!” Without hesitation he replied that she should find a spell to rid of him.
Once we were armed with our wands, we took to the streets of Hogsmeade to give them a go on the many interactive locations they have throughout the entire area from levitating bludgers with a “wingardium leviosa” and a simple swish and flick, to silencing bubbling cauldrons with a flick of the wrist and an added “silencio”, it absolutely made the experience as a whole.
The first ride we headed to, of the two they have, was the ‘Flight of the Hippogriff’. There was a very short wait, and we were able to see Hagrid’s hut, his infamous flying motorcycle and could even hear Fang whimpering from inside. Once we were loaded into the wicker-looking carts with the head of a hippogriff, we passed Buckbeak laying casually in his nest as we climbed higher for the first drop. It was a fun little roller coaster, great for first timers and little children. Then, something that has never happened, and may never happen again, they asked if we wanted to stay on for a second go. Obviously this was a no brainer, and off we went again!
We happened to pass the Hogwarts choir performing with their toads as we went to drop off our wand boxes and the house scarves I had knitted for the occasion as the day grew warmer before we were off to the next ride ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’. We stowed our bag, and by bag I mean Chewbacca that was holding all our belongings, and asked Lisa if we should bring our wands on the ride which was met with the deadpan reply, “A wizard or witch never abandons their wand”, so that answered that! After hearing some meh reviews about this ride from friends, I was happily blown away and hit right in the feels with nostalgia afterwards. My favorite parts of this 3D motion ride were when all three of us reached for the 3D snitch as it passed by us and how we all yelled, “Expecto Patronum!” at the same time when the dementors were closing in. After exiting the ride we headed right back for a second go, and walked right on at that, so I highly suggest visiting on a random Tuesday in October!
We grabbed some snacks along the way including gilly water, pumpkin juice, apple cinnamon chips and of course frozen butterbeer! Hands down butterbeer was the unanimous favorite to sip down as we tackled more of the interactive wand areas. Unfortunately Lisa was having some issues getting the ‘spells’ to respond, to the point of proclaiming, “Oh no, I’m a squib!”. Luckily a witch passing by was able to help us and direct us back to Ollivander’s for some assistance, turns out it was her wand all along! Phew!
The rest of the day was spent meandering through shops and interacting with, well everything, the people that worked there, the ones that were visiting. It was so fun to see guests dressed in Hogwarts house robes, wands drawn. Even the train conductor shouted to me as I passed by, “Another Weasley? How many of there are you?!”. We definitely noticed a difference in the people throughout the rest of Universal compared to Hogsmeade, Hogsmeade was a much friendlier bunch. Our best guess was the unsaid bond for the love of the world that J.K. Rowling created.
The day had flown by so quickly, it was time for a quick bathroom break, to hear Moaning Myrtle blubbering in the U-bend, and to pack it up and head back to Las Vegas.
It was in all honestly the perfect day, the only problem is that now it has us all riled up to head to Orlando to visit Gringotts!
Anyone else a fan of the world J.K. Rowling has created?